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Parker Power!

Having tackled techno, dub and electro on previous projects Andrea Parker has returned to her classical roots for the string soaked 'Rocking Chair' and inked an album deal with Mo Wax. Dave Barber avoids the word 'ethereal'. Smiley shots: Jake Curtis

When Andrea Parker first went to record companies they sent her away with Lisa Stansfield CDs, wanting a more commercial sound with cosmetic production. An experimental female musician is quite an anomaly for a record compony to produce and market. Anne Dudley from the Art of Noise should be considered as a precedent, but she kept herself away from the limelight. Andrea herself does not enjoy the attentions of the press. As a talented musician, equally adept at making techno records (Inky Blacknuss), electro (Melodius Thunk) and downtempo songs (Rocking Chair), it is becoming increasingly difficult to escape them. As a woman in a male dominated Field, her opinions have currency. But they are not overtly feminist. What is important is gaining and exercising a degree of power and control, to further her career on her own terms. "You meet people in clubs who moan about a remix of their record....why don't they just stand up for themselves?" Andrea certainly does, conducting her own affairs without a manager. "I don't like leaving things to other people because at the end of the day, their interests are not the same as mine. It's the music thats important.
When journalists interview female musicians, the music isn't important. Instead they look for a marketable image or a scandal to hang a story on. This irks Andrea. Yet ever when reviewers do tackle her music hey describe it as "ethereal", "dreamy" and "wispy", shrouding it in cultural notions of femininity, They ignore her challenges to form, breaking down the regimented 4/4 rhythm by placing emphasis on the offbeat. Even her taping of everyday sounds like knives sharpened or a chopstick on a metal staircase, is passed off as quirky, Bjorky kookiness and not an innovative alternative to the presets on a digital processor. Now if they were discussing Carl Craig...
At Mo Wax, James Lavelle is giving her the support and freedom to push this experimental approach in whatever direction she chooses. She has stepped back from the techno cliques, "the ten people sat round discussing a bass line, it just leads to everybody copying each other's ideas." Having been a resident DJ at Lost for the last two years, she has seen how the incestuous nature of these cliques leaves most techno sounding similar. "Like Maurizio, he develops a kick pattern, then two months later everybody's using it, It has left techno with its head up its own arse." Nothing we didn't already know, but interesting to meet somebody who knows how to keep their head out.
As a classically trained cello player, Andrea is keen to create ore complex form of dance music. This is evident in the y ambitious single 'Rocking Chair' due for release in late July. Taken from her forthcoming self-penned album it is a very, very personal song." Unlike on artist like PJ Harvey this is not a confessional. She made it clear the songs inspiration is private. But the intensity of that experience is cap tured on the record, particularly, through the haunting arrangement of the 40 piece orchestra, that somewhat overshadows the slight melody. It is in this rich harmony of strings, that the expression of anguish and frustration forges an aural landscape through sliding chord arpegios, that turn deep emotion into sound. It h05 a peculiarly visual appeal, which is a compliment to Andrea's musical interpretation as she is "inspired by mad images in my mind." A number of her pieces have indeed been written for or used as soundtracks, notably an Arthur C. Clarke documentary, the Sky at Night and last but very least Richard and Judy (aka This Morning -Ed.). She wants to continue doing scores for TV and film, as well as make more techno records with producers like David Morley and continue her solo projects at Mo' Wax. There is a real willingness to cross boundaries with innovations that are not in lyrics or image like many women performers. They are located firmly in the music, cutting down formats, using new sounds and moving in different directions.
Dance music has waited a long time for her to arrive.

Originally Appeared in Jockey Slut June/July 1997.